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Corporate manslaughter charge fears for VW over emissions scandal

Transport minister Robert Goodwill has said Volkswagen Group could be prosecuted for corporate manslaughter over its rigged diesel emission tests.

Goodwill told the Environmental Audit Committee that a corporate manslaughter charge may be considered if legal advice suggests it could be successful.

When asked if a corporate manslaughter prosecution was an option he said: “That’s probably something that’s above my pay grade to decide – whether a prosecution of that type might be successful. But certainly if it could be proven that a case like that could be brought then certainly that could be open.”

It would be for law enforcement authorities, rather than the Government, to bring forward a corporate manslaughter case against the company, according to a report in The Independent.

It is not clear how many deaths could be linked to increased emissions as a direct result of the scandal. Estimates from Martin Williams at Kings College London have suggested around 5,800 premature deaths in the UK can be linked to diesel emissions from vehicles.

Goodwill said other avenues for legal action against Volkswagen could include a prosecution based on misleading testing authorities, or an investigation through the Competitions and Markets Authority.

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  • Guy Ainsley - 30/10/2015 10:37

    It is very troubling that a government minister would say something like this. Firstly, it shows woeful ignorance about the law in general and specifically about corporate manslaughter. Secondly, phrases like “above my pay grade” are best left in American TV crime dramas. Just another politician deflecting attention from the fact that, yet again, a big corporation has ran over the regulators acting on the state’s behalf.

  • AC - 30/10/2015 12:04

    We therefore should hold the government to a corporate manslaughter charge, they are the ones that impose no restrictions on the number of new vehicle registrations in the UK. We look like seeing circa 650,000 new car registrations this year that are not 'real'. Add this number to many years previous and then guess how much increase in harmful emissions have the governments allowed and the effects on health this has caused?

  • Sam McCarthy - 05/11/2015 16:05

    Quite a few people need to go to jail for a lengthy period (i.e. years) over this this outrageous conspiracy. VW have been heavily fined for market rigging in the past, fat lot of good that did! Wish I hadn't bought so many Volkswagens in my life.

  • Katie Williams - 25/11/2015 22:11

    The Minister's statement is incredible given a very similar situation exists currently in relation to the aviation industry, where the adverse effects on health of aviation are well proven but the Government continues to support a policy of increased flights over some of the most densely populated areas of Europe.